Dr. Jackie’s Early Years

Zusia® developed from my personal experience with health-related disability. I understand that disability makes routine activities anything but routine. Accessible resources mean that life’s ordinary satisfactions don’t have to be achieved by extraordinary effort. In my own life, practical resources have served as a critical link between my goals and their fulfillment.     

I’m a cancer survivor who has struggled with chronic illness since childhood. Born with a narrowed artery leading to one of my kidneys (renal artery stenosis), my symptoms resulted in decades of medical treatment and hospitalizations that began in elementary school. As a young person, illness confronted me with choices that usually don’t occur until old age. I could chose to lie down, physically and emotionally, or I could “stand up” and keep going. I chose to "stand up".

Dr, Jackie Volk

College offered me opportunities to define myself in terms of my interest in psychology, philosophy, and religion. Between the ages of 18- 20, ill for almost a decade, I set national academic records at Connecticut’s Trinity College. In two years, I completed the requirements for a four year B.S. college degree and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Northwestern University Medical School offered me a merit scholarship to attend graduate school in clinical psychology. During the summer of my first academic year, I traveled to Israel as a student member of a cross-cultural research team.

Upon my return, I married a medical student who has remained my wonderful husband for more than 40 years.

  While my husband completed his postgraduate medical training in New York, I commuted between Chicago and Manhattan to finish my internship, doctoral research, and dissertation.      

In 1977, I was awarded the Ph.D. degree by Northwestern University. Despite ongoing medical problems, I completed my college and graduate studies—and its travel between states and countries—- with an “A” average.

Proclamation Dr, Jackie VolkDr. Jackie Volk
Human Rights

My first child and my Ph.D. arrived almost simultaneously. More children followed, and I combined part-time clinical work with more-than-full-time (!) work as the mother of four lively children.

Painful experiences with prejudice were a catalyst for my development into a human rights advocate. In 1993.I was appointed a municipal commissioner of human rights and, later, Chairperson of the city's human rights commission.

I have also addressed human rights issues as a communications consultant. I represent organizations and individuals when I believe that they are ethically motivated to provide service. All of my human rights work is done “pro bono”, without payment or other compensation.

I chose to "stand up" as a physically ill girl, and I continue to "stand up" as a woman who uses a wheelchair. I’m not grateful for illness and disability, but I’m grateful for my life. I’m also grateful for the resources that have helped me to actualize myself as an imperfect but worthwhile individual.

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